These are the words of Him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open. (Revelation 3:7)
Sometimes we think if the enemy would just leave us alone, our lives would be more comfortable, but God is opening and closing doors with our best interests in mind. It’s imperative that we learn to know the difference so that we no longer try to beat down the doors that have been dead-bolted shut or create windows that lead to our own demise. I’ve touched on this topic before in my article titled “When God Changes Your Dreams,” which pertains mostly to our careers, but this time let’s talk about a few everyday things like friendships, relationships, talents and self-worth.
It seems like I’ve spent my entire life learning how to make genuine friends. This may seem silly, but moving around a lot as a child and dealing with the wounds of my parents’ divorce made me almost an expert at creating superficial friendships and perfecting my talent of becoming a social chameleon in order to get people to like me. No matter if someone brought a fair share of pain, I would keep them around because it was better than being alone. Even after I gave my life to the Lord, it seemed like many of the people I surrounded myself with—Christian or not—came with a lot of negativity. I figured it was all the enemy’s scheme to create division. I fought harder to problem-solve and keep these people around me, but some of them made it very clear that they didn’t want to stay or have a friendship built on love and mutual respect.
If you find yourself trying to hold onto toxic people or have to constantly persuade them to realize you’re worthy of being in their circle, it’s most likely God telling you to “let go.” If He never desired for them to be grafted onto your life, He needs to redirect you to the people who are going to come alongside you and help you to fulfill your purpose here on this Earth. Also, some people are in our life for a season and we have to pay attention when that season is up.
The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8)
Aside from friendships, we need to shed a light on romantic relationships as well. Relationships are a touchy subject because I believe at some point most of us have fallen in love with a guy we thought we’d be with forever, only to have it all crumble in a devastating way. In the midst of an on-again-off-again relationship, it may seem like the noble thing to do to fight for your love even though it’s costing you everything. The Romeo-and-Juliet-flavored love story seems very romantic, but believe me when I say that God brings us our future husband when we’re ready. We may have a lot of work to do to keep that relationship flourishing and God-centered, but it will never feel like it’s draining the life from you. If you have to fight that hard to make it work, it’s probably not the enemy ruining your love life, but rather God offering you something tailor-made for you if you just surrender to His will.
God knows when you’re ready for marriage, and also knows when the time is right for life-changing success pertaining to our talents. There are many successful people who will tell you it always seemed like the “big break” was right around the corner long before it happened. In actuality, it would take many more years of hard work and effort until they made it to a level where their talents were finally recognized. You may be feeling like every time you get close to that promotion, title or opportunity, it seems to be just out of reach. You might pray and ask God to bind up the enemy’s work, but He could be delaying the process because you’re simply not ready yet. Your talents may have to catch up to your passion. Or your maturity may have to be developed before you’re ready to step into the spotlight.
A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men. (Proverbs 18:16)
Similar to God maturing your talents, He’s still working on your character. I remember a time when you couldn’t tell me any criticisms about myself without me getting extremely defensive. As a new Christian, I didn’t understand the difference between wisdom and a personal attack. I was working so hard at becoming a new creation, walking in love and renewing my mind, but I couldn’t accurately perceive the stage of maturity I was in (or wasn’t in, for that matter). My self-worth was so rooted in what other people thought of me that it was hard to see the love behind someone pointing out the areas I still needed to grow in. I realized over time that not everything from God would be something I wanted to hear, but if I kept hearing the same thing about my character over and over again, it was time to redirect my focus and take a closer look. At this point, I welcome constructive criticism and it’s easier for me to discern if it’s truly something from the Lord or if the enemy is at work chipping away at my self-worth.
We have to understand that even though every good thing comes from the Lord, it doesn’t mean that it will feel good when we’re going through it. The next time you think you’re under attack, pray and ask God to reveal to you if He’s at work or if you really are facing opposition. He’ll show you how to surrender or fight, depending on what His answer is.
Have there been times in your life that you felt you were under attack, but realized God was redirecting you? We’d love to hear about it!